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Fletcher’s Ross Taylor named New Zealand Communicator of the Year

Ross Taylor, Fletcher Building CEO, has been named Blackland PR’s 2022 Communicator of the Year for his calmness and clarity of communication during the nationwide Gib shortages.

Ross Taylor demonstrated everything you want in a communicator tasked with providing explanations on a highly complex, emotionally charged issue. His composure and resolve, when faced with hostile questioning from journalists, steadied the company which ultimately came through the year.

We ranked the Gib shortage as one of the nation’s toughest PR challenges last year. Almost every New Zealander was affected and / or had a view on it. As is typical with supply chain problems, ultimate responsibility for shortages is difficult to assign.

That didn’t stop the commentators from predetermining Fletcher Building as responsible. It was up to Taylor to explain to a hostile media the reasons for the shortages; correct false assertions about the company’s practices; and, reassure New Zealanders that the problems would be fixed.

He met that challenge. His plain-speaking, unambiguous position provided some much-needed calmness when the situation required it. His conviction and explanation on the multiple causes of the shortages and what was being done to remedy them was challenging, but necessary, given the panic and finger pointing stirred up by others.

A notable highlight was a 15 minute interview he gave with RNZ’s Checkpoint. He challenged false assertions that Fletchers monopolistic practices exacerbated the shortages. He stuck unflustered to his position under considerable provocation, speaking sincerely, and using solid evidence to back up his statements.

Runners-up for the 2022 Communicator of the Year Award were James Fuller of Hnry and economist Brad Olsen.

We were impressed with James Fuller’s directness in his public communication. His no-nonsense style is clear and unambiguous on what Hnry does and its purpose – to make accounting life easier for people running businesses not registered as companies. It’s a refreshing change from the traditional corporate model of lofty, but empty, promises that leave customers confused and ultimately dissatisfied.

We commend Brad Olsen as a skilled communicator for translating expert knowledge into simple and ordinary language. He is particularly adept at using real world examples and natural language to convey economic principles, which means his message is easily understood.

Blackland PR established the award to promote clarity of communication in public life. It is awarded for those who demonstrate the value of using clear and persuasive communication. The award is now in its seventh year. Previous winners have included Sir Peter Gluckman, Mike King, Greg O’Connor, and Shamubeel Equab.

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